watching my blind cat



narla walks past the lounge room window in winter sun

as I’m trying to finish a short story   feline fluidity now

a disconnected index of tentative movements

her nose is her new eyes     but she misjudges     jerks

backwards at every sniff      the lawn is a featureless wasteland

she zigzags in slowmotion   the same ground she once covered

like an arrow. wends her way to the fishpond bumping blinking

into branches.  visions of blindness.   that night in the shack on

hindmarsh island coming back from the toilet to the bedroom

in the no-moon dark    fixed action patterns of habit retracing

steps  headbutting strange walls  a rat in a maze, cornered until

i realise i’m in the wrong room.   the blind man at the bus stop.

watching him through the restaurant window      coins falling to

footpath  probing the dirty concrete with the backs of his hands.


the fish need not fear. my blind cat’s come to lap their universe.

what is to be done with this decrepitude? is it kinder to end her

life?            or must we all accept we’re past our prime

i remember my grandfather watching in awe at  boyish

sure-footedness as i rockhop barefoot over the breakwater,

his awe    a discarnate nostalgia           for muscle-memory.


narla takes one step down from the pond’s rim   she extends

her nose several times                  indecisively pussyfoots air

makes contact with the ground.


my father’s last month in the nursing home. his last chapter.

we had all peeked at the last page.

watching him, sharp acuity dulled, pale ghost of his once-self.


it’s kinder on the birds   the mice   the insects she’ll no longer

present to me on the coir-mat platter.      completely harmless.

her mercury motion solidified and leaden. she crawls into

the watery sun and sleeps as well               as she ever did.


leaves the decision to me.


© rob walker

(originally published in The Cortland Review as both a text- and audio-poem, Feb, 2012)

Also in tropeland (Five Islands Press) 2015

Also remixed with music as Narla (with Speck) on



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